Andy Potts Andy Potts
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CSKA bounced back from Wednesday’s defeat to tie this series in impressive fashion. Igor Nikitin’s team dominated Lokomotiv from start to finish in game two, ensuring that the teams go to Yaroslavl with the conference semi-final locked at 1-1. 

CSKA Moscow 4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 1 (2-0, 1-0, 1-1)

(Series tied at 1-1)

More importantly, perhaps, the Army Men also seized the momentum after a strangely toothless performance in the opening game: tonight, the Muscovites looked far more like a team that had dominated the section during the regular season.

Photo: 19.03.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Playoffs. CSKA (Moscow) - Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)

Blanked in the first game of this series, CSKA came out looking to make a statement. And the Army Men did exactly that in the first period. A few minutes’ gentle probing, then a spell of four-on-four after Artyom Blazhiyevsky and Nikolai Kovalenko picked up slashing penalties. The extra space on the ice suited the home team, and Eddie Pasquale made the first big save of the game to deny Konstantin Okulov.

And there was even more space to exploit when Vladimir Tkachyov joined Kovalenko in the box. Nine seconds later, CSKA was ahead. Maxim Shalunov won the faceoff and sent the puck to John Gilmour at the point. The defenseman moved to the center, waited for his opponent to commit himself then sent a low shot inside Pasquale’s right-hand post.

Within a couple of minutes it was 2-0. Loko lost possession in center ice and that enabled Shalunov to go one on one with Pasquale, shooting early to give the goalie no chance. Blown off course by CSKA’s early storm, Lokomotiv called a time-out in an effort to get the game back under control but had to wait until a penalty on Bogdan Kiselevich before having a chance to stem the onslaught. However, the visitor’s power play was unable to make much of an impact and the first period finished with the Army Men in complete control.

The second began with some signs that Loko was getting back into the game. Artur Kayumov fired one against the post with Lars Johansson beaten, and Anton Lander got the puck to the slot but Yegor Averin was unable to wrestle his way past the defense to get a shot.

However, that little rally was as good as it got for Lokomotiv. The visitor was without Pavel Kraskovsky, the team’s leading scorer in the regular season, and his absence did little to help find a way back into the game. Midway through the second stanza, CSKA killed a penalty and immediately added a third goal. As the box reopened to allow Kiselevich to return, Andrei Svetlakov chased down a dump and chase. As the forward advanced and lined up a wrister, Loko d-man Maxim Osipov attempted a poke check. The puck looped up into the air, leaving Pasquale stranded, and dropped over the line to put the game beyond the visitor.

With the game as good as won, CSKA could afford to skate out the third period without pushing hard for more goals. Indeed, there were times when even an extended spell of possession in the Lokomotiv zone did not result in any attempt to shoot at Pasquale’s net. Instead, the home team concentrated on keeping its defensive shape and ensuring that the Railwaymen were limited to the outside as the minutes ticked away.

True, Lokomotiv got on the scoreboard midway through the third when one of those long-range shots led to a goal. Osipov’s effort cannoned back off the boards and felt to Yegor Korshkov, who potted his second of the series. But any hopes of a fight back were quashed when Blazhiyevsky scored into an empty net to seal CSKA’s victory.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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